It is disheartening to see another instance of Supervisor Das Williams being highly paid for favorable influence, and ultimately votes, by cannabis growers. Is it really coincidence that in the months coinciding with the Board of Supervisors revisiting the Cannabis Ordinance (February through July of this year), which finally had the potential to enact a few changes to protect neighborhoods and communities, that Supervisor Williams received $30,500 from local cannabis growers and Supervisor Lavagnino received $7,000 (per official quarterly donation reports)? These “donations” came from 16 growers awaiting finalization of their permits running through the county process. Very disappointing.
As you know, in politics, especially at the local level, even the appearance of impropriety does not sit well with the voters, and does not lend credibility to this critical cannabis implementation the county has undertaken.
Residents who have repeatedly shown up in good faith attempting to get fair and balanced regulations in support of their communities and livelihoods are obviously upset that this kind of donation/voting leverage is going on behind the scenes. It has been manifestly evident over the past two years that the growers have had the dominating support of Williams and Lavagnino, so this is just another “in your face” reminder that we residents have been relegated to fringe representation, even though we are clearly the overwhelming stakeholders in both numbers and long-term collective investments in our communities.
The optics look remarkably like Das and Steve are knowingly and willingly marginalizing the needs of their constituents in favor of the growers, and in the process growing their campaign slush funds. What the voters wanted was transparency, strong representation, and support. What we got is a pay-to-play ordinance that has fostered an entitlement mentality with the growers, while greatly disrupting the lives of those they are mandated to serve.
In California there are cities and counties that have regulations stating that no donations can be received from anyone connected with an upcoming issue for a certain time period before or after an initiative is voted on. It’s easy to see how such a policy would make a great deal of sense in the current situation we are experiencing. I believe that it would be both appropriate and ethical for Supervisors Williams and Lavagnino to either immediately return these dirty funds or recuse themselves from any future discussions and votes that pertain to cannabis. Most of the community has become discouraged, having lost trust and confidence in the “leadership” of some of our elected officials.